Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a matter of great pride that, as your Colonel-in-Chief, I and my wife are able to attend this evening’s parade, during which two of Canada’s finest Reserve Regiments, The Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish, have received their new colours. I know that as always you will guard and uphold the traditions and principles enshrined within these colours. And knowing that the Toronto Scottish is also Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s own and that this is my first opportunity to see the Regiment since I have had the privilege of following in my Grandmother’s footsteps after her sixty-three year association with her Regiment, I can only say that this is something that means an enormous amount to me.
As we gather together to celebrate this special occasion, we remember generations past and the immense courage, service and sacrifice shown by your forebears over more than a century.
Embroidered onto each of the colours that I have presented to you are names familiar to us all: Vimy, the Somme, Passchendaele, Dunkirk, the Rhineland; names which remind us of the horror and carnage of the First World War; the violence and bloodshed of the long and costly advance to defeat the Nazis and, of course, the extraordinary loyalty, bravery and resilience of Canadian soldiers who fought shoulder to shoulder with their Commonwealth brethren, for Crown and Country, many thousands of miles from their homes.
Today, both of your Regiments continue in the finest traditions of your predecessors, only this time you have been deployed to other regions of the world including the Golan Heights and Sudan and, of course, Afghanistan. I know that during the last two years, between your two Regiments, you have provided forty-three soldiers for operations in Afghanistan who have worked in the most difficult and dangerous of environments in Helmand and Kandahar, often under the constant threat of direct and indirect attack. I can only begin to imagine how incredibly challenging and difficult it must be to operate in such austere, unfamiliar and hostile conditions. Miraculously, no-one from your Regiments has been killed. I am, however, aware that two of your soldiers were injured in Afghanistan and I am so relieved to hear that they have both made a full recovery.
As a father of two serving officers, one of whom has himself served in Afghanistan, and Colonel-in-Chief of twenty-two Regiments, seven of which are Canadian, I have at least some understanding of the immense challenges faced by the families of those serving in the Canadian Forces and I can so well appreciate the appalling emotional strain and anxiety which permeate every waking minute while a loved one is placed in harm’s way. To the families here this evening and, indeed, to all the families of the Canadian Forces, I would like to express my deep gratitude for the unwavering support you have given to your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your fathers and mothers, your husbands, wives and partners who serve in this great nation’s Armed Forces. Your love, compassion and loyalty are an essential ingredient for a successful mission.
If I may, I would also like to say a word or two about the people of Canada, many of whom have no direct link to the military, yet whose patriotism and pride in our Canadian Forces is evident each and every day. I cannot tell you how moved my wife and I are that so many of you have chosen to come here on this Autumnal evening, or are watching this parade on television at home, or who line what has so poignantly become known as “The Highway of Heroes” to honour the Fallen. These acts of solidarity have a great unifying force and impact. I know from the servicemen and women to whom I have spoken just how important this is.
As you march off with your new colours flying, please be aware of your Colonel-in-Chief’s undying interest and concern in all you do – but, above all, of the pride I feel in being associated with two such special Regiments.
God bless and preserve you all.